#Care2Care: Coffee Bean’s Commitment to Social Responsibility
Last Saturday, I attended Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf’s event called Caring Cup Conversations. According to a CBTL representative, this was the launch of a series of talks that CBTL has lined up for the succeeding months.
Caring Cup is in line with the company’s commitment to social responsibility. It is their way of giving back to people; no matter who you are, where you are situated in or what your living status in life is. I saw the occasion as CBTL’s way of engaging and reaching out to the society as they commit to respond to a need whenever they see one. Neat, right?
It is not often that I get to visit Coffee Bean. There is currently no branch here in the city I’m residing in, so whenever I get the chance to be in Manila I see to it that I drop by one of their cafes and get my favorite—Green Tea Latte on Soymilk (lactose intolerant represent!). It was perfect timing that they have scheduled their first Caring Cup Conversations on the weekend that I was in the capital.
The talk was held at The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in Burgos Circle, Bonifacio Global City on June 9, 2012. The event was hosted by David Bonifacio and the speaker for that day was Bam Aquino. In case Bam sounds (and looks) familiar, he happens to be the nephew of the late Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr. (hence the resemblance), and a first cousin of PNoy and Ms. Kris Aquino.
Years back, Bam and a couple of friends started a social enterprise called “Hapinoy.” The word was derived from two words combined together: Happy and Pinoy (a slang for Filipino). The enterprise, which is managed by MicroVentures Incorporated (MVI), oversees small convenience stores located in a community which sells a variety of things, most of which are commodities used or consumed every day.
The owners of Hapinoy Stores are women micro entrepreneurs. These women undergo training through MicroVentures Incorporated. What I really found promising in this kind of venture is the fact that the benefactor of the project is not entirely after gaining profits for the business, but rather they put premium on the personal development of the women under their care.
Talk About Failure
As Bam put it, “Hapinoy was built on failure.” Prior to putting up this project, Bam was able to start 2 other ventures. Unfortunately, both went kaput. Nevertheless, the presence of failure didn’t stop them from pursuing another project. This wasn’t a case of “Try and try until you die.” but “Try and try until you succeed.”
So, try they did. On the third venture, Hapinoy was born and flourished.
Learning from Failures
Mistake or failure is welcome at Hapinoy as long as it comes cheap, it can be contained and most importantly, it gets corrected right away.
As failures are inevitable, Bam encourages accepting it and building on it. Hapinoy surpassed countless failures because they have accepted it and moved on. Learning from failures is as easy as following 3 simple steps:
- Learn from it;
- Do it again;
- Get it right.
What is important in failing is the lesson we get.
One of my favorite statements from Bam is this: “Don’t stop learning. Learning is 50% unlearning bad habits and 50% learning new ones.”
When it comes to helping others, what comes into mind for most of us is sharing the things we have or donating money to charity. Bam has challenged to change this traditional social mindset.
Hapinoy, according to him, is geared on wealth creation in order to alleviate poverty. They help the women by training them how to be responsible in not only managing a business but handling money as well. It is their goal to see the women rise up from poverty and be able to afford and experience the things they thought they could never pay for before. They want to see the women succeed in managing a sari-sari* store and not a “sara-sara** store.”
Currently, Hapinoy has reached 14 provinces and made a positive impact on numerous households since it started its operations in 2007.
Helping others is easier said than done. I believe this is innate in each one of us, but as David put it, people have certain attitudes when it comes to helping. Bam addressed some of the common attitudes (or excuses!) that we have (yes, I say WE, cause we have all had it at one time or another):
- I cannot help because I do not have money.
“You don’t need money to help!” Bam says.
Volunteering is still helping and it doesn’t entail money. All you need is time and availability. Bam suggests volunteering for foundations (there are countless in need). Volunteering is a win-win situation. It’s not just the person that we’re helping that’s learning but also us, the ones extending aid.
- I have my own needs to address, how else can I give to others?
“Always remember the ‘Pay-it-forward’ aspect. There’s more to life than just fulfilling our personal needs. Find things that are bigger than yourself that you’re willing to fight for.”
- I want to help—how do I get started? Who do I help?
Bam suggests determining the period that you would want to commit for helping. Is it short term? Or long term? Once you have determined it, proceed to search for a cause that is closest to your heart.
As much as we’ve all wanted to learn more, Bam had to cut the talk short because of another engagement he has on schedule.
Here are some of his parting words for those who are interested in creating a change in the community:
“Start small and get it right.”
“Learn to lead from the middle. You don’t have to be on top to take the lead.”
“The challenge is not only to care but to be innovative, creative and to have the will to finish whatever you have started.”
Care to Change
Basing on everything that I have learned from this talk, the important thing would be the response to the challenge of creating a better community. All the learning I have will go to waste if it only stays with me; hence I am sharing it with you. Sharing is one way of spreading awareness to people, but what we’re really after is the action and our commitment to change.
What am I going to do? What are you going to do?
*Sari-sari is a Filipino word that means variety.
**Sara is a Filipino word that means close (verb).